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December in Denver may feel warm, but Adrift is celebrating with a Christmas luau anyway.EXPAND
December in Denver may feel warm, but Adrift is celebrating with a Christmas luau anyway.
Courtesy Adrift

The Seven Best Events on the Culinary Calendar This Weekend

This weekend is all beers, beaches and big family meals; better brace your livers for the next few days, as the booze will be flowing freely. Keep reading for the seven best food and drink events this weekend, plus more in the months ahead.

Luckily for beer lovers, chef Chris Starkus of Urban Farmer had a bumper crop of cantaloupes this year.EXPAND
Luckily for beer lovers, chef Chris Starkus of Urban Farmer had a bumper crop of cantaloupes this year.
Linnea Covington
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Friday, December 14
You already know cantaloupe can be put to good use as a pot pipe, but it can also be used as a beer ingredient, as evidenced by chef Chris Starkus's surplus of the fruit this fall. Starkus, executive chef at Urban Farmer and owner of Lost Creek Micro Farm, harvested more than 200 cantaloupes this fall and partnered with Intrepid Sojourner Beer Project to create a quartet of brews using the sweet melon. On Friday, December 14, the taproom at 925 West Eighth Avenue is throwing a release party from 6 to 9 p.m., when you'll be able to sample a flight of Cantaloupe Saison, Bee Bitter Cantaloupe Saison (made with bee-pollen bitters), Spiked Cantaloupe Saison (which includes coriander, mint, ginger, jalapeños and orange peel), and Oak-Aged Cantaloupe Saison. Starkus will also provide apps from Urban Farmer for $16. Info is up at lostcreekmicrofarm.com, and tickets aren't required; just show up ready to get a taste of summer in the middle of December.

How many beers does it take to get you on the dance floor? Cerveceria Colorado is betting at least one, and on Friday, December 14, you'll find out if that's accurate, as the brewery, 1635 Platte Street, hosts Noche de Salsa. From 8 to 8:30 p.m., a beginner's salsa class will be in session followed by open dancing for the rest of the night to practice your new moves. Tickets are $8 for adventurous singles or $15 for couples, and include one beer to help you loosen up. Purchase yours on the taproom's Facebook page. Already know your cumbia from your casino style? Tickets aren't required for the rest of the evening's dancing. NOTE: Couples tickets are now sold out, but single tickets are still available.

Alpaca sweater, and Denver breweries will bring the booze to Denver Beer Festivus.
Alpaca sweater, and Denver breweries will bring the booze to Denver Beer Festivus.
Danielle Lirette

Saturday, December 15
If you haven't constructed a gingerbread house yet this month, you've still got some time — and from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, December 15, you can craft your perfect cookie cottage while contributing to a good cause. Both Little Man Ice Cream (2620 16th Street) and Sweet Cooie's Ice Cream and Confectionery (3506 East 12th Avenue) are hosting the Gingerbread House Party. Party-goers get a gingerbread house kit and decorations, free ice cream and hot chocolate and a raffle ticket for a $15 donation; proceeds will benefit Habitat for Humanity and SafeHouse Denver, which provides shelter and resources for victims of domestic violence. Unlike the last house party you attended, there won't be a keg tapped in the garage, but you also won't be challenged to a keg stand, either. Visit efirstbankblog.com for complete details on the event.

The Feats of Strength have arrived! Hopefully you've been training all year in anticipation of crushing your family and friends (physically and emotionally) at this year's Festivus. Even if you haven't, grab the aluminum pole and make your way over to Denver Beer Festivus, which takes place on Saturday, December 15, at the Sports Castle, 1000 Broadway, from 3 to 6 p.m. Over fifty Denver breweries will be pouring brews to take the edge off all that family time; our favorites include Black Project, the unique Dos Luces and brand-new Liberati. Tickets are still available for $40 or $65 at denverbeerfestivus.com; get yours now, or you'll be the subject of your drinking buddies' Airing of Grievances.

Start your Saturday night off with a bang at the Irish Rover. On Saturday, December 15, the bar, at 54 South Broadway, is collecting toys on behalf of GIVE Denver's holiday gift drive. Bring in a new toy valued at $20 (or donate $20 on site) and receive free drinks from 5 to 7 p.m. You'll kick off the evening feeling warm and fuzzy — both from your good deed and from the booze.

The Rotary knows how to cook a piece of meat, as this perfectly done sirloin attests.
The Rotary knows how to cook a piece of meat, as this perfectly done sirloin attests.
Mark Antonation

Sunday, December 16
Sunday roast is a time-honored tradition — but who wants to have the whole family over just to have a nice cut of meat? And who has the oven space (or the motivation) to cook a full-on roast? Fear not, intrepid eaters and reluctant cooks: The Rotary, 3200 Pecos Street (inside Avanti), is turning out a three-course feast of Colorado lamb on Sunday, December 16, for just $25. The lamb will come Moroccan-style, with harissa (a spicy red-pepper paste), chermoula (an herby sauce consisting of garlic, cilantro and parsley), saffron couscous, spiced yogurt and grilled cauliflower. Drink pairings are available for $20, or you can make your own selections from Avanti's bar. Visit the eatery's Facebook page for the complete menu and to purchase your tickets for the 6 p.m. meal.

Winter in Denver is the perfect time to hit a tiki bar; when it's dark by 4 p.m. and bitterly cold, there's nothing that makes you feel like you're in a tropical paradise like slipping into a shady, bamboo-paneled interior and ordering a delicious umbrella drink. It hasn't been a particularly chilly December, but Adrift, 218 South Broadway, is gamely branding itself as Snowdrift until the end of 2018, and on Sunday, December 16, it's hosting a Mele Kalikimaka (Merry Christmas) Luau from 4 to 9 p.m. Polynesian dancers will add to the beach vibe, and $25 will get diners all-you-can-eat roasted pig, huli huli chicken, macaroni salad, sticky rice and King's Hawaiian Rolls. As for any tropical vacation, reservations are required; call 303-778-8454 or email info@adriftbar.com for yours.

Keep reading for future food and drink events.

There's a seat at the table for everyone at the Crafty's Fox's December 17 dinner.
There's a seat at the table for everyone at the Crafty's Fox's December 17 dinner.
Courtesy The Crafty Fox Facebook

Monday, December 17
You may be dreaming of a white Christmas, but the same can't be said for homeless individuals. With the holiday season comes freezing temps and (thanks to Denver ordinances that increasingly penalize the homeless) limited spaces for people without shelter to eat, sleep and simply exist. But on Monday, December 17, the Crafty Fox Taphouse & Pizzeria, 3901 Fox Street, is inviting all homeless individuals to enjoy a free meal from 5 to 7 p.m. for its inaugural Christmas at Crafty. The restaurant is preparing for up to 500 guests, and needs volunteers to help put on the dinner. So instead of bemoaning the return of the work week, take a few hours that evening to ensure that everyone who wants to can enjoy one of life's simple pleasures — a hot meal. Email info@craftyfox.beer for more info and to sign up.

Friday, February 22, through Sunday, March 3, 2019
Denver Restaurant Week is coming, so clear your calendar from February 22 through March 3; you'll want to visit a different eatery every day. Hundreds of Denver’s top restaurants will offer multi-course dinners for three tasty prices ($25, $35 or $45) during the fifteenth year of the wildly popular week. Stay tuned to Visit Denver for a list of participants and menus, and book your first choices right away, before someone else nabs your table.

If you know of a date that should be on this calendar, send information to cafe@westword.com.

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